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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Dog Day: Well it was one of those. I started learning how to work my dogs moving stock...useful because I share a 16 head sheep flock with my working buddy David, 75 years old. Was out at the ranch where a lot of folk teach and learn herding skills. And I wanted a ram lamb. David needs one and I figure I owe him one in trade for letting my dogs run the sheep around as they learn. :-) Lots of suburban folk bring their dogs in to play with sheep. Not many really end up with working dogs...they're just there to do something with their dogs. Outsiders. The folk who run the place ARE stock folk. So I collared Dave, the head stock man, to talk lambs. At first it was you and me with a barrier between... we're not the same tribe, lady. But I DO 'speak stock'. Done that for a long time. So we looked at lambs and I said the right thing about wide and topline, used the right vocabulary, and I watched his body language relax, watched him smile and mean it. 'You're one of us'. That's what it said.

And isn't that what we do when we create a character? My sons used to call me 'the chameleon' because I could 'speak the language' of most folk I met (well, the ones who spoke English anyhoo). And that's what we do when we create a realistic character...we speak that character's langauge to the reader and that makes the character real, whether it's 'old cowpoke', 'young punk', or 'timid virgin'. We speak the language as we form the character on the page.

So once again, my dogs have reminded me of what I do. They're good at that.


Blogger Jean said...


I find that "standoffish" nature in lots of folks. Stock people, dog people, lawyers or what have you, even writers. Yes, for the most part they are polite but until you become one of them you are definitely not in the club so to speak.

That is a good thing to remember as we create our characters, gives them a bit more believablity I think.

So did you get a lamb?


9:08 PM  

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